The Division of Nephrology congratulates Associate professor of Medicine Jianghui Hou, PhD, on the recent publication of his book The Paracellular Channel: Biology, Physiology and Disease (1st edition; Academic Press, Elsevier; June 9, 2018).
The book is a comprehensive coverage of an understudied field that may hold key insights into some of the most mysterious aspects of physiology.
Paracellular channels, found within intercellular tight junctions, transport ions using a mechanism completely different than transcellular transport. With transcellular transport, solutes travel through a cell, passing through both the apical membrane and basolateral membrane. With paracellular transport, solutes cross an epithelium by passing through spaces between the cells.
This new class of ion channel is thought to be formed by claudin protein interactions that create pore-like structures similar to those found in transcellular transport ion channels.
“Paracellular channels create an alternative route of ion and water permeation through various epithelial tissues,” say Dr. Hou. “Malfunction in paracellular channels due to mutations as exemplified in several Mendelian diseases highlights the vital role of paracellular channels in human diseases.”
Dr. Hou has recently pioneered a novel approach for high-resolution measurement of the paracellular channel permeability. “Paracellular channel permeability is very elusive, largely due the 3D structure of the channels located in the cellular structure known as the tight junction. A novel approach based on scanning ion conductance microscopy may revolutionize the recording and characterization of paracellular channels at molecular level.”
The book is conveniently targeted to varying degrees of expertise, from students to clinical fellows to “seasoned researchers” who study functions, regulation and dysfunctions of different tissue barriers.
The study of paracellular channels is a young field, Hou points out, one in which exciting discoveries are being made at a phenomenal rate. He hopes that his book will inspire interest in, and new recruits to, the field, and help take paracellular ion channel research to new heights.